Freecycling – A Step Beyond Recycling

Freecycling furniture Guest post  by Caroline Smith

Most people are aware of the benefits of recycling in general. However, many may be unaware of the numerous reasons why a specific type of recycling, referred to as freecycling, is such a great concept.

Freecycling, which, as the name suggests, denotes free recycling, is a way in which you can rehome your unwanted items and potentially find other items that you need for free. Like others, you probably have items sitting in your garage, attic, or basement that are simply acting as dust collectors or space invaders. You very likely no longer have any use for these items, and you may be planning a trip to the local landfill to discard them. Rather than dumping these items in the landfill, however, the following are reasons that you may want to consider freecycling instead.

How Freecycling Works

The definition of freecycling is passing on an unwanted item to another person in need of the item at no charge. Freecycling helps to reduce waste associated with the manufacture of new goods, reduces the number of items placed in landfills, and allows unwanted items to be put to good use by extending their lifespan.

While this sounds like a great concept, you may be wondering just how you can get involved yourself. There’s a growing number of online freecycling communities all over the world, which are dedicated to ensuring unwanted items are given away and made use of instead of being thrown away. Most freecycling group members live in locations that are geographically close. A close proximity allows the exchange of freecycled items to be both convenient and environmentally friendly. If a group does not exist in your area, you can be the catalyst for freecycling in your area.  To find out more, visit the Freeycling Network.

Choosing to Freecycle

Freecycling is not only an excellent way for you to discard your unwanted items in a way that is kinder to the environment, but it also allows you to find items that you need for free. This can save you both time and money and it can also reduce your carbon footprint. In a freecycle community, members will post items that they wish to discard as well as items of which they are in need. Before going to the store to purchase a new item or before throwing an unwanted item in the trash, members can take a look online to see if they can be of help to anyone in need. With freecycling, everyone benefits.

Potential Problems

The most common downside to acquiring secondhand items for free is that they will probably have signs of wear and tear or may just not be to your taste.  However, considering you’ve not paid any money for the objects, it can be worth spending a little time and cash to give them a quick makeover to suit your style.

There are lots of easy ways to revamp furniture in particular, and freecycling is a great way for green-minded people or those on a tight budget to furnish their homes.  It’s a simple enough task to sand down wooden tables or dressers and repaint them to fit with your decor.  You could use dining room chair covers to get a random assortment of individual chairs to match.  And similarly it won’t cost much to buy a couple of slipcovers for sofas to disguise ugly upholstery.

It’s a Win-Win Situation for Everyone

You need an item and someone else is discarding the same item. You get what you need, they reduce the clutter in their home or downsize their life, and the earth breathes a sigh of relief. Freecycling is a great concept, and hopefully in time more people will reap the advantages of this brilliant form of recycling. Whether you wish to discard an item or you are in need of something, consider freecycling as an alternative to the landfill or a new purchase. It is a simple but powerful concept that should catch on in every community because we can all benefit from freecycling unwanted goods.


Caroline Smith has written articles for a number of green blogs.  She runs and likes to find creative ways to reuse old furniture and extend its useful life.

Image credit:

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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  1. Freecycle is a great resource but sometimes it can be hard for new Freecycle members to adjust to all the Freecycle rules and the flood of email from the mailings lists. I've built a new free web site for existing groups that tries to makes it easier for people to use Freecycle. You can try it out at

  2. Good article! Freecycling is one of those more obscure green practices that people aren’t really aware of. I feel that if an initiative was taken by the governments of larger nations to bring attention to freecycling, it could really take off! Another issue that may turn folk away from it, however, is the time it can take to find someone who’ll want what you’re giving. In my eyes though, freecycling is an excellent practice.


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